Jan 9, 2014

A Few Words With Bear, 1998-1999 (Guest Post)

From Steve Seachrist, Guest Blogger

One night in late December, 1998, I happened upon the e-mail address of Augustus Owsley Stanley III, famous 1960s LSD chemist.  Owsley, or Bear, as he preferred to be called, also made a name for himself by acting as soundman, recordist, and financial benefactor of the Grateful Dead in their early years.  Perhaps his most well-known commercially-released recording is that of Old and In the Way, the all-star bluegrass outfit featuring Jerry Garcia on banjo.

I had an interest in his unusual recording technique -- one that calls for the sounds coming from each microphone to be assigned fully to the left or right channels, with no “panning”, or electronic sharing of sound sources between the two stereo sides, except for what would naturally “leak” onto adjacent open microphones in the room (on the stage).  I made the mistake of asking him about this in a tone that was, let’s say, less than serious – wrongly assuming that he was as lighthearted as most of the Dead and their associates seemed to be.  It quickly became obvious that he was not.  Despite his initial rudeness and several subsequent rants decrying my stupidity, I maintained a series of short conversations with Owsley over the course of about four months.  Typically, I would pose a question or state an observation, and he would dutifully respond, usually the same day.

I soon found out that Owsley’s interests extended far beyond the recording world.  For the sake of continuity, I decided to group his musings by subject.  Therefore, the quotes below are not sequenced chronologically.  Despite this, I believe that everything in the edited text remains in its relative context.  I don’t think the meaning of anything he said is changed.

Although he was very prompt in replying to all of my messages, I really don’t believe he ever assigned any kind of identity to me.  I mean that for all he knew, I was a different person each time I wrote to him, with the exception of a couple of exchanges regarding astrology.  He was generally consistent in his answers, but sometimes contradicted himself, and obviously would have replied somewhat differently had he expended the small amount of energy needed to build on our discussions, rather than wiping the slate clean each time.

It is clear from his demeanor that the Owsley of 1999 fancied himself some sort of online guru, doling out his unconventional wisdom to the unenlightened masses.  Why else would he advertise his e-mail address in Grateful Dead related webpages?  I am sure he received plenty of e-mail from curious Deadheads.  After all, he was the one who turned simple Kool-Aid into the electric libation that fueled Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests, not to mention countless other, less “scientific” excursions into the great unknown.

He signed off  “Cheers, Bear” each time, regardless of his mood, perhaps proving he had a sense of humor after all.

On Audio Recording:

Pan pots don't make stereo, they are for distributed mono. I don't make mono recordings. In a small space there is no need for separate sources which are the ideal in large systems. The ear has the ability to detect fractions of a millisecond in time.

The stereo images that I record are true images with the various sonic components in the proper phase and time relationship to give a full stereo image with either headphones or the normal stereo speaker arrangement used in the home. There is quite a lot of leakage in a normal image, but it has distinct and unique phase and time relationships between the channels and is arranged as the recording is made, by means of mic placements, etc.

I don't use "science" in my recordings. I only use my ears, and my musical ability and taste.

We no longer must depend for our lives on the careful use of our ears, so the native hearing abilities don't get used and thus are not developed. At your age, even a large amount of acid may not be of much use in developing this skill (assuming you want to develop it), although in the right circumstances it might be of some help.  It is an innate human skill in hearing which I have managed to develop and use, not something like a formula I can teach to others. This does not mean it cannot be learned, if the situation and the stimulus is there, but it is better to start really young. The blind have this ability, all of them.

In order to produce a stereo sound from a studio setting the mics must be set to provide a pair of appropriate tracks of each sonic entity. You cannot make a stereo mix from any mono source or collection of mono sources.

I have been living in a very rural place, and concentrate on art these days, although I do work from time to time on my old tapes. I have not been approached to work with any band in years. I am not going around looking, but would consider any offer from a top group.

I make every attempt to duplicate as exactly as possible the real sound field on stage through careful mic placement and combination. The result is not an artifact in the true sense of the word.  It is what the musicians hear while playing, not what the audience out in the hall hears that I am capturing in my recordings.  All real world sound is by its nature, stereo (stereo, a Greek word meaning: solid/three dimensional).  The word stereo has nothing to do with the number of channels of a recording, but with the three-dimensional nature of the sound field.

I never use directional mics. I hate the sound of directional mics and use only omnis, and usually only the highest quality instrumentation types. I never use any baffles or other means to shut out leakage. I set mics purposefully to sample full field sounds, and use the leakage constructively.

My description of the captured sound field on OITW is accurate so far as precision of description from a single musician's standpoint is concerned.  What I captured is actually more an average of what all of the musicians heard. I say that because the musicians in a bluegrass group are moving around all the time to select the mix they want at any given moment. The mics cannot, in the set up I used for OITW, follow them around. But it is as close as you can get in practice to what it was like on stage.  I use no eq or line amps or other circuits which are capable of "colouration".  I never drive the tape to distortion, and use the Nagramaster curve with a total IM and THD distortion figure of .005%.  In my recordings, there are NO "intangibles."

I suggest you listen to the real high-end mics (start with B&K) a bit more critically. Such mics are very expensive, and some of them can run over $10,000 each.  Few studio managers can justify the expense of stocking them, there has to be a large number of various mics in the locker, because many recordists will choose mics FOR their colour, rather than risk the extreme phase distortion accompanying the use of equalisers.

Real pro gear like Nagra is so near to perfectly colourless that it cannot be detected.  Most of the stuff found in commercial studios does not conform to this standard.  There is a lot of other gear around, however, that you won't find in studios.

The new DVD-A standards will, for the first time, permit a decent digital transcription to be made.  44.1 and 48 kHz are a very bad joke.  You have never listened to a Nagra recording, I suspect.  The specs I quoted are sound to sound through the tape.  I can hear that level of distortion vs. reality.  In fact, I can hear stuff the instruments can't measure.

I don't really give a shit what other people do and call art.  I never recorded with studio techniques, and always use leakage constructively.  In fact, I dote on leakage, and set things up to utilise it.  Others can't do this because their ears aren't tuned to the subtleties.  That is what some call talent.

The Janis tape [released commercially in 2012 as Live at the Carousel Ballroom] is a PA tape, one of my journals, not a purpose-recording.  It has an exquisite sound field.  If the soundman is not a total incompetent, the sound on stage is wonderful and the musicians with whom I have worked as a soundman have always been ecstatic about the sound I have produced on stage.  The Old and in the Way recording would not have been possible without a very fine soundman at the booth, Maple Byrne. The sound on stage those nights was a sheer delight, and my tape faithfully captures that ambience.  I am a live performance recordist/producer, not a studio hack.

The recording engineer as a musical contributor is as useful as tits on a boar-hog.  Most of the damage they do "improving the music" is corrected later either by the musicians or by the record cutting engineer, who must attempt to undo enormous amounts of bad EQ, etc.

I am not interested in studio recording and never have been.  I consider the studio as a sterile unreal and out-of-time way to make bland, uninteresting but polished and technically intricate music.  It is not "alive".

I am a great fan of the newer music and I never listen to any of my old recordings -- I was never a "taper". The tapes I made from the PA were, plain and simple, a current diary or journal of my work on the night. I buy about 100 new music albums a year and am quite interested in the direction music today is taking. My purpose-recorded live recording, such as Old and in the Way are quite another matter.

I have nothing but disdain for egocentric studio jockeys who try to place themselves on the same or higher level that the artists that it is their job merely to assist with the technical bits.

All areas of art have two types of people practicing, those who have talent naturally and those who are diligent, study and practice relentlessly until they can produce an "acceptable" result.  The latter sort are in the majority in all fields.  I don't consider their products true art.

You might take a clue from this: Perhaps you are not on the right path.  Misinformation is very widespread, it is no failure to accept incorrect premises, it is only a failing to cling to them when the truth is found.  The artist is ALWAYS the one, and the only one, creating a work of art.  All others are merely his assistants. The best soundman or studio tech is completely transparent in the performance.

On Diet and Nutrition:

The introduction of vegetation as a major portion of the diet is the cause of not only overpopulation, but also of almost all the ills of modern man: Diabetes (meat-eaters never suffer from this and changing to an all meat diet is a complete "cure"), obesity (fat in the diet does not fatten you, only carbs do), heart disease (arteriosclerosis is caused by tissue damage from insulin, which is only released in response to the carbs in vegetable foods), tooth decay (caused by bacteria which ferment carbohydrates), cancer (all known dietary sources of cancer-causing chemicals are from vegetable foods), cataracts (vitamin A is only found in liver, carotene is NOT vitamin A), and many, many more.

If we were still primarily carnivorous, we would, by necessity be limited in our food supply by the numbers of animals readily available to us through husbandry and hunting.  [It is] not correct that hunter/gatherer societies took only what they "needed", as there are many instances of the complete destruction of habitats (the rainforests of Tonga) as well as species extinctions (all the mega-fauna of the Western hemisphere were destroyed between 11,000 and 9,000 bp). People will always take what is necessary to sustain themselves and there is a natural tendency to increase numbers whenever food is abundant, this has never changed.

Probably as important as agriculture for the overpopulation problem is the development of medicine. Death delayed is worse in the end for the numbers than too many births.

My son is an adherent [of a no-carb diet]. He is a vet. I have several correspondents [who] have lost a great deal of body fat, and the motivation to change their eating habits was determined by their life-long obesity.  One was 5'7" and 330 lbs from high school days, in five months he came down to 200, and is still losing.  Most people will not eat this way, it is a social thing.  What you eat has absolutely nothing to do with what is healthy or what is good nutrition, it has only to do with what was fed to you as a child.  A "nutritionist" or "dietician" is an apologist, or one who tells you that the food your mother fed you is the best, and is "balanced", which is a non sequitur.  Of course, most of the practitioners of this food cultism which I have come into contact with in my life have been obese, in other words, they are in the field due to a love of eating.

Cultures with a heavy emphasis on rice have severe tooth decay and problems with diabetes and obesity. Most of these cultures have quite short life expectancies. Most of these cultures are deficient in protein, as well, in fact some African tribes suffer an endemic disease called kwashiorkor, which is caused by too high carbs and too low protein.

If we all ate only meat there would never have been any population problem, because if you cannot feed your offspring, you must reduce your reproductive output.  The movement of people down the food chain (eating the grass/grain instead of eating the grass-eaters) has caused our population to explode, to the point that we are in danger of replacing all other animal species with humans.

People have always bred to the limit of the food supply, and always will.  Only starvation seems to limit the expansion.  Every civic leader talks constantly about encouraging "growth", no-one ever talks about stability and balance.  Even apparently intelligent humans will speak out against birth control and abortion, so the insanity leading to overpopulation is very deep rooted.  I for one, consider the eating of vegetables as a major portion of the human diet (the development of agriculture) to be the greatest single threat to the diversity of life forms on the planet that has ever occurred.  I'll take grassy paddocks and scattered cows over concrete, buildings, subways and (hydroponic?) rice paddies any time.

All meat is "organic", and all meat is sterile and is a living food, unless it has been frozen, cooked or is spoiled.  Meat from a healthy animal is not, and cannot be, "tainted".  All cereal grains in the world, particularly in the US are contaminated with a dangerous radioactive isotope, strontium 90, which is chemically interchangeable with calcium, thus it goes to the bones of the animal eating it.  If it is bread eaten by a human, or beer made from it, then the human gets irradiated bone marrow, producing leukemia and anemia as well as bone cancer and several other unpleasant sequelae.  If it is eaten by an herbivore, it goes to the same places, but is of no consequence due to the short life span of such animals.  The bones are not eaten, so the strontium is harmlessly removed from the food chain.  Pesticides are likewise removed from the food chain by the animals which eat them, and only by consuming rather large amounts of the fats and livers would you have much exposure to them, even then, it would be far less than you would get from the vegetable sources which accumulate in the animals consuming them.

The hormones used in meat production are so miniscule as a tissue residue as to require a very sophisticated detection system to find them.  The hormones are animal, not human hormones, and the concentrations in tissues which are effective in promoting growth constitute so small an amount in the meat you would eat, that it could not have any effect.  (If it did the bodybuilders would eat nothing else, and they don't, they go for chicken and tuna).  Besides -- such hormones, if they were of the human kind, would only be effective in the body if injected (so don't go shooting up your beef hit).

I eat mostly beef, and it is true, the meat up here in north Oz is entirely paddock fed, the grass is superb, the beef is the best I have ever eaten, and no-one who raises cattle here can afford to add any supplements to the animals, they can't get the money back at the saleyard.

If people accept you as a person, they accept your likes and dislikes as well.  Perhaps the reason is just that you yourself could not deny yourself the "free" food represented by all the other things on the table.  I always pay for, but ask not to be served vegetables which may be a part of a meal in a non-a la carte restaurant.

Babies are born without a single taste preference for any food.  The foods you like are those you were fed as a child.  You are a total prisoner of your upbringing.  In fact, the use of "children's tv" as a child-minder has caused serious and quite probably uncorrectable losses of social skills due to the effects of taking away from learning time the time spent watching TV during the pre-eight years of age period.  Read my essay on the subject on my site.

Every habit, all your "characteristics", the entire persona you present to the world as a human being are the result of what you learned as a child.  Food is one of the most basic of all needs and thus is buried in the depths of your psyche.  If you manage to develop great will power and steely determination, the food thing can be dealt with, but it is not a walk in the woods.

Meat is the ONLY natural food for humans.  Thus, meat has such a good and wonderful a flavour by itself that it is never anything but gorgeous-smelling and wonderful tasting.  It needs nothing whatsoever to mask the taste.  Vegetables on the other hand, taste absolutely disgusting, as any baby will attest by spitting the foul stuff out with alacrity.  

You now eat what you have accustomed yourself to, and that is what gives you pleasure, not the knowledge of its nutritive value.  The child goes through many stages of rebellion before being subverted to the accepted regime.

All the condiments and flavouring agents which are used in the world's cuisine are the necessary accouterments for masking the bad or bland taste of vegetation.

I have eaten a plain, simple steak, cooked in fat or on a wood fire, three to six times a day for up to three or four months at a stretch without any change, and each and every steak was the best, most mouth watering and wonderful mouthful of food that I had at that point ever tasted, and this condition remains solid with me to this very day.  Don't get me wrong, I love eating all sorts of animals, fish, chicken, lamb, snails cheese,various organ meats... anything meat is good and delicious, but nothing NEEDS a condiment, although I quite like chilies and garlic and can prepare hundreds of tasty and varied dishes from meats.   Mostly I prefer the meat just as it is, raw or very lightly seared on the outside. 

I have been known to drop hundreds of bucks on sashimi in a sushi bar.  Sushi is rice, with a tiny bit of "dressing" on top.  I do not even consider rice something to feed a dog, so I only eat sashimi.  The mixture in sushi is horribly difficult to digest, and would take hours to clear the stomach.  Two more opposite things to digest than starchy grains and meat protein cannot be found.  If you MUST consume rice or other starchy grain, eat it all by itself and give your body a break.  Starch is almost totally converted in the system directly into body fat, the only thing more fat-inducing is fruit sugar (fructose).  The stomach can very quickly produce meat digesting HCL in only a few minutes, but it takes hours to muster enough enzymes to break down the starches.  Green things are even worse, up to four hours are needed.  75% of the stomach surface is acid-producing, and the other 25% must produce three separate enzymatic juices for the digestion of all foods other than meat protein and fat.  The HCL converts the meat into a liquid in about 45 minutes, and the fat is solubilised in [the] duodenum by the bile. An entire meal of (just) meat is in the bloodstream in less than one hour. There is no unabsorbed residue.

The only parasite you are likely to meet in a piece of sashimi is the notorious "sushi worm", or anasakis parasite. This is a larval form of a worm which is a parasite on walrus and seals.  Salmon off the CA coast are all infested with it.  I got it fourteen years ago from eating sashimi from a fish I had caught myself.  The larvae cannot penetrate the human stomach, and thus die, but it causes great discomfort for several weeks as it chews away at your stomach's lining.  All qualified sushi chefs would inspect the fish for this parasite, so you are in no danger in a good eatery.

I am surprised that any change in your diet [would have] an effect on cholesterol levels, which are set in your system by an unknown mechanism.  The big problem is not dietary cholesterol, but damage to the arteries.  Cholesterol is a natural and important waxy alcohol, and is a major component of the nerves as well as being a precursor for all the steroids you body produces.  There are almost no sources for significant amounts in food, it is manufactured in the body.  If your levels dropped it was likely due to malnutrition.  Saturated fats are the one best source of energy in the body, they are the form in which you store energy and they are completely clean burning.   Unsaturated fats are mostly dangerous, polys cause serious free radical production (organic peroxides), and hydrogenating them (margarine) leads to deep tissue melanoma.  A certain amount of monos which are found in meats, are essential, but are used other than as food in the body.

I thought all the vegetarian Deadheads died of malnutrition in the mid ‘80s.

I drink a lot of fresh, clean, cool, delicious rainwater.  I also like herbal teas, and coffee with heavy cream (cremachino, with home-roasted bean, a practice of 26 years now).  Perrier has always found favour with me.

Apropos of all this, I just got a letter from one of my "dieters".  He told me he had weighed 330 pounds at graduation from high school, and had always, his entire life, been obese.  He went on the zero-carb regime after reading my website essay one year ago at a weight of 296.  In five months he had dropped to 207.  He is now at 185, and as he is only 5'7", he will most likely drop to 160 or a little less in the end.  No other diet has ever worked for him.

Extreme obesity and a desire to live in a normal body is most likely the only motivation strong enough to allow a person to overcome lifelong eating habits.  I saw my own fate in the mirror at age 21, at a weight of 186, (I had been 125 through high school) and was so freaked out that I dieted for two years on a restricted calorie diet before discovering the all-meat, zero-carb diet.  I was lucky, my aversion to veggies and my mother's inability to force me to eat them meant I was not fat until I moved out and had to buy my own food, and eat more carbs, which are as you know very cheap.  From the moment I went on the diet I didn't have to be hungry all the time and had boundless energy, I was training as a ballet dancer at the time, the most intense and demanding of all athletic activities.

On Drugs:

The strongest and most psychedelic grass I ever had was in the period of ‘68 to '73.  One small toke and you could not stand or walk, and saw acid-patterns in the pavement.  The pot nowadays is just harvested too late and is stupifying.

On Art and Commerce:

Personally I was blown away when I found that I could make sculptures with my hands, out of images in my head or things I could see.  I was never taught anything, I can just do it.  I don't even practice, the things just get easier each time I do one, no matter how much time passes between efforts.  I think you could say it is a natural talent, and you must try every different sort of art to find the one you are naturally endowed for. You may be surprised, I have little talent for drawing, but I can make virtually anything with a piece of wood, clay or other solid material.  The fact you have the feelings of creative energy means you have a talent in hiding, you must search tirelessly until you ferret out what it is.

Fortunately I can make anything I feel like and people will buy it.  But I most likely would not produce anywhere near as much work as I do if I was a rich boy.

Artists who are not in any way motivated to make work which they can sell, but who rather use their talents, if any, to make "statements" (and those sort are many) have hard lives filled with suffering, which then comes to dominate their work.  I make things which are beautiful, because I don't see the need to offend people to make a point.  I also think that there is way too much ugly "art" in the world already.  Since my work is therefore attractive, it sells easily and I don't need to live a life of poverty and suffering. As a consequence, my work over time has become even more gentile and attractive.  Like begets like, so to speak.

The reality of life in the real world is that we each must work at something remunerative to live.  There is no way to spend the bulk of time making art (or music) unless you are able to sell it, thus there will always be a "commercial motivation".  The only alternative is to keep art as a hobby, and work at some other job to feed and house yourself.

Art, like music is not judged by the excellence of the craftsmanship of its making, although better execution is nice, but in the vision of the artist, the power and quality of the image.

Musicians rarely succeed artistically behind a strict motivation to make "commercial" music.  The results may sell, but once the flash is over their work sinks without a trace.  Music written for the muso's own enjoyment lives for generations, and still can be wildly popular and very much a commercial success.  None of this has anything to do with the way it is recorded, that is the craft part, not the art part.

In 16 years I have sold only two pieces in Oz. 
I ended up $5000 in debt to Garcia to pay my fine on charges of tax evasion.  10 years later I settled up by giving him a bronze sun sculpture.

On Religion And Astrology:

I am an Alchemist by religious belief, and I have a strong dislike for the usual spread of superstition-based belief systems such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism.  If you are not real sure as to what is meant by Alchemy or Hermetic Philosophy, look for a little book titled Kybalion, by Yogi Publication Society in Chicago.

Astrology is not a religion.  It is an ancient compilation of observations of the details of the cyclic processes of nature and the universe.  I figure this information has been collected for over one hundred thousand years, maybe more.  Astrology, if the correct house system etc is used, can be extremely precise. The Chinese is even more useful as it is based on the 60 year lunar cycle.

Alchemy states that the universe is the activity of an all-encompassing Mind.  The basis of the manifestation is vibration, and all things have highly rhythmic and cyclic nature.  So EVERYTHING which makes up the universe is locked into cycles, and is being co-manifest.  Astrology is a study of cycles in the movements and relations of planets.  These movements are part of the manifestation and will be following the state of the universe at the moment.  Think of astrology like the speedometer on a car, much easier to read the speed from this calibrated device than to estimate it from the passing scenery.  I learned about astrology in reverse, by noticing that people I knew naturally fell into "clusters" of similar characteristics.  I then learned that they were of the same astrological year or month, in eastern or western tradition.  This proved to me that the knowledge was valid.

I noticed the connections before I read anything about it.  The usual house system, Placidus, is so badly flawed as to produce results completely unlike the individual's true nature as to turn many people away from it.  Equal houses help, and a chart based on the MC is better yet.

What is your date of birth? [9/16/60]
You are a Virgo Metal Rat. The term "metal" is the same as gold in Chinese.  The Rat is a very highly respected sign in the Chinese system he is the first of the signs, and is considered to be very successful, a true survivor and is usually very good at whatever he engages in.  Virgo would make a detailed mind part of the Rat nature, thus you are quite sure of what you know.  And it is true, however there may well be some things you have not yet learned, and which might not be perfectly easy to perceive.  Likely you are mostly attracted to knowledge which is readily adaptable to your enterprises, and do not cultivate a wide-ranging interest in knowledge for its own sake.

In a system of rules based on observation, the moment of conception is hidden, but birth is not.  In addition, the child is not an independent entity until the cord is cut, thus this moment is traditionally considered the exact point of entry into the matrix of causality.  Astrology is about time, not space nor location except as it refers to time, thus the moment of birth and the system of house determination is very important.

The truth is that religions INSTILL a fear of death, it is not found in non-traditional religions.  Death is a natural part of the sequence, and the mystery of life and death is always with us, but without teaching, there is no fear.  Fear and the "answers" are the linchpins of all the superstition-religions.  There is only one thing about the state of death that has ever been demonstrated, and that is the guided re-incarnation practiced by the Tibetan high lamas.  All the rest are myths, and worse: lies.

Afterlife is an invention of the priestly religions.  Alchemy says basically that consciousness cannot be lost or destroyed.  Like the conservation of energy statement in science.  So far as I am aware there is only one proven fact about the continuation of the soul after death, and that is the Tibetan Lamas and directed rebirth.

Many individuals come out of comatose states with complex tales of their experiences "in other planes". Consciousness/mind and the activity of the brain are not synonymous.  Consciousness is expressed in brain activity so far as the personality and character of the person is concerned in their life, but consciousness itself s a basis "substance" in the universe and is the level below/above the physical in manifestation.  In the old days it was sometimes referred to as the aether.  The particular and unique consciousness attached to a person is sometimes referred to as the "soul" or spirit, or will.

The "background", or material (ancient term: ether) of the universe is like the clay that a sculptor uses to make his models, the individual is made up from this substrate of consciousness in a somewhat similar fashion, and thus there is no limit to the number of individual "souls", plus once created they are eternally a part of the whole.  The consciousness (alchemists call it the All) which IS the universe, is not "finite"—is not limited, and cannot be defined in human terms.  It is creating the entire universe, indeed, it is infinity in the truest sense.

On The End Of The World As We Know It:

I had a repeating dream, every night for over three weeks, the same. I have never had any other dream twice, either before or since.  It started on 20 Mar 1982.  Castenada used dreams, and I have always heard that some people can achieve the state of "lucid dreaming".  I don't pay much attention to my nightly dreams, and only the Ice Age sequence was ever repeated.   I researched the pattern of the [catastrophic, Ice-Age] storm as I understand it, and picked the mountains of far north Queensland as the best place on the planet for a white English speaking person. 

There [are] only a few spots on the planet that [are] suitable for survival and I [am] in one of the best.  I fully intend to see this through.  If you think you can stay up there in the north and last more than a few hours, you are going to be badly disappointed.  As an enlightened being, I arranged to be encarnate on the planet to watch this, one of the greatest shows in history, only happens once every 115,000 years. I have been aware of the coming of this "adventure" in some fashion ever since I was a kid.

This event IS the world's only weather for about six weeks. Nothing will be above water in the entire northern hemisphere, and the wave action on the coasts of the s. hemisphere will destroy all the cities there as well.  There is no evidence of human survival anywhere in the northern hemisphere, or the "western hemisphere", that is, the Americas.  The oceans of the world will have icy slush on the surface when they finally calm down. It is a serious event, destroying the majority of the planet's living creatures, although it is not a mass extinction, just a brutal thinning. Most likely the entire human population at the end of the storm will number less than 2 million and may be only a few hundred thousand.  I am not surprised that you cannot imagine the magnitude of it. Few will.

We have had 18 of them in the last 2 million years (one every 115 thousand years) and most of the animals and man are still here. So obviously it is possible to ride it out, and by being in the right place, to survive.

Perhaps, if you like, in the final sense, nothing is sure, but history is a help.

See Also: 
Bear on his early music history - http://www.thebear.org/musicintro.html 
Bear's 1991 interview with David Gans, in Conversations With The Dead.
A 2-hour audio excerpt played on "Dead to the World" is here - https://archive.org/details/bear-gans1991-01-13

Jan 3, 2014

November 23, 1970: Band Interview


The first set they play is high-energy, hard-rock routine. Good, solid, and listenable. No better than that. Next, a smaller group of them comes out for another set which lasts about an hour.
Then an intermission, an anticipatory cluster of minutes where people are reluctant to wander far from their seats. A sudden blackout on the stage. The rustle of feet returning down the aisles. A hush. And then the voice of an invisible announcer who says, simply, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Grateful Dead."
To say the Grateful Dead is a phenomena rarely matched in modern times is something of an understatement. They were among the first of the so-called "acid rock groups" to surface in San Francisco, and while dozens of groups later appeared and disappeared, the Dead only grow.
A writer friend of mine describes their concerts as "a religious experience, a eucharist," and I agree with her definition. The Dead (Jerry Garcia, guitar; Phil Lesh, bass; Bob Weir, guitar; Ron McKernan "Pigpen," organ and singer; Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, drums) play that final one-and-a-half hour with such incredible energy and passion that it is impossible to listen and not be very much involved. Fans, called naturally enough "Dead Freaks," are drawn to their feet to clap, dance, sway, and otherwise participate. When the Dead try to stop playing, they are inevitably called back to do two or three more songs by an audience so entranced with the magic that is happening that they don't want to leave the theatre.
The Dead's music and concerts are so powerful and so literally indescribable it is hard to separate the men who compose the group from the magic they create. In an effort to do so, I spent three hours one day recently with Jerry, Bob and Phil discussing their lives, personal philosophies and opinions of themselves and the group. The highlights of that interview follow:

CHARLIE - What did you all do before the Dead became the Dead?
PHIL - Before I was the Dead I was alive.
JERRY - I don't remember ever doing anything except what we're doing now. We were just doing it on different scales, different calibrations. When I first started on the guitar I played Chuck Berry stuff, then I went into the army and saw people playing with their fingers, so I wanted to play with my fingers. From there I got into a blues, ragtime, folksy trip. I was doing a lot at once. Out of that came Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Band - me, Weir and Pig - and out of that came the Warlocks, which was the Dead before the Dead (and minus Mickey Hart).
CHARLIE - In Tom Wolfe's Electric Cool Aid Acid Test, he mentions the Dead several times. Were you close to Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters?
JERRY - Well, we were always close by, in the same community and stuff.
PHIL - We were the younger kids. We used to hang around at Kesey's. We used to bug the hell out of Kesey and those guys cause we weren't contributing whatever it was they wanted people to contribute. We were picking their brains and picking up on their chicks. Me and my friend Mike used to take our dates there to impress them.
JERRY - We were really worthless. They were all like college people and we were just freaks. This was before the acid days, like '64, when Stanford was just doing its first L.S.D. research. We were never really close to Kesey but we had molecules in common. It was a small town and if you were a head you knew all the other heads. We'd hear about all those goings on at LaHonda (where Kesey and the Pranksters were) since we knew some of the people. Eventually we decided to stick our heads in and see what was happening.
CHARLIE - How old are you?
PHIL - I'm 30, Bob is 23, Jer is 28, and the rest are between Bob and me.
CHARLIE - This past year your popularity really seems to have grown here in New York. Your concerts get sold out so fast. Is it the same outside of New York?
JERRY - It seems like we're pretty popular outside of New York. In the last three months it's been the same other places we've been.
BOB - We sold out in Cleveland.
PHIL - And in D.C.
CHARLIE - When did you start really catching on as performers?
BOB - We did a free concert with the (Jefferson) Airplane in Central Park two years ago that got a lot of people off. That's when we started having a regular scene here so we could always come here and have a good crowd. It's gotten far out in the last year here. I don't know how you would gauge success in New York. Til lately, we were always the second band on the bill that did good and everybody was surprised.
PHIL - That's always more fun. If you're the headliner you have to deliver all the time, and deliver a certain type of thing that isn't necessarily the most artistic thing you can do.
CHARLIE - Tonight you're doing a concert produced by the Hell's Angels here. People here seem to see some contradiction and wonder how it came about.
JERRY - Sam and John (members of their "family") fell into an evening of raving with Sandy, the president of the Angels in New York.
PHIL - It's more or less just a party. The Angels wanted to throw a party, which is the thing they do the best.
CHARLIE - I've heard that you had something to do with the Angels being at Altamont.
PHIL - If you want to talk about Altamont let's take two hours or five days and talk about nothing but Altamont. An isolated question we won't answer.
JERRY - Nobody is responsible for the Angels. They don't know about it here, but the Angels on the West Coast are kind of like tigers in the street. Nobody can do much about them. They're just there.
CHARLIE - Do you see a contradiction between your music and doing a concert with the Angels?
JERRY - I'm not into contradictions. I myself don't see one. The way I see it, everything is a contradiction if you want to look at it that way. A lot of things simultaneously exist. It doesn't mean they can't work together when they can. Sometimes they can't but sometimes they can.
CHARLIE - Want to talk about politics?
JERRY - We're not politicians so we can't give a coherent political rap.
PHIL - But what isn't political these days?
CHARLIE - What's your lifestyle like now? Are you still into a kind of Prankster hippie thing?
JERRY - Our lifestyle has changed from that. People now consider us neo-rednecks.
PHIL - Our scene is real straight ahead. Nothing at all strange about it. It's completely un-strange. Mr. and Mrs. America. That's us.
BOB - I have a ranch. We all live in the country now. We don't live together. There are too many of us. The family is about 50 people. It's a fluid community.
CHARLIE - Back to politics. I heard that you're going to do a benefit for the Panthers. That's pretty political.
JERRY - Well, we met Huey Newton on a plane and he's a great guy, really together.
BOB - Contrary to what people think, he's a humanitarian. He's not on any personality trips. He's really open, and we're relating to him on a friend to friend basis.
PHIL - We asked what we could do. We thought we were doing our part but it seems we're not doing enough. We tossed around a few ideas and this benefit is what came out of it.
JERRY - The information we got about the Panthers we got from Huey. And that's what we're responding to, that personal contact trip. Like we might respond to Nixon, for example, but we've never had an opportunity to sit down and rap with him. The way we deal with stuff is on those levels.
PHIL - We relate to the movement if it is something that seems righteous like the Indians losing their land or the People's Park benefit. We'll play for things like that.
CHARLIE - What do you think of the myths that have grown up around you?
PHIL - We only see the myth about us in the way other people present it to us, by the way people are affected by the music. They figure since they've got that head that's what we meant by it. The picture we get is mostly of the people not of the myth, so there's no way of our knowing what it looks like.
CHARLIE - But your music, some of it's so spiritual that it really invites myths.
JERRY - The time to construct a theory of music is after it's all over, so it's all cream, we can goof with it.
CHARLIE - You don't plan any deep meanings in the songs?
JERRY - No. Sometimes I set Hunter's (Bob Hunter, who writes most of the words for their numbers) words to music and sometimes he writes them to the music. We're just doing it. It ain't dogma.
CHARLIE - Are any of you into mysticism? So many people describe you, Jerry, as a guru.
JERRY - Phil is into it more than I am.
PHIL - On an intellectual level. Who among us knows someone who is really there?
JERRY - We're just musicians basically. We know lots of people into spiritualism and they tell us what's happening. That's one of the spheres we travel in, but that's not to say that we're part of it. We're just traveling in it like we're traveling in New York. But because we're in a position where a lot of energy happens around us, anybody who's interested in energy and power and all of its attendant trips is just naturally drawn to our trip. So people who are into magic or the occult spot in our music and its whole effect something that is extraordinary. Also, we're from California where everybody has an I Ching. It's just part of the way people live.
PHIL - When you're dealing with communication on such a massive level, there's no way of avoiding the fact that since music is on so many different levels, some people are only going to pick up on certain levels. There's no way of avoiding certain bummers if you're dealing with mass communication. Like the bummer of having somebody misinterpret you to the extent that he ruins his life behind it or something like that.
BOB - That's the kind of thing we have to look out for. Some people overdo themselves with drugs, but there's nothing in our music that says you have to be high to listen to it.
JERRY - But we wouldn't say not to do that either.
CHARLIE - There always seems to be a lot of acid floating around at your concerts.
PHIL - We've had some scenes you wouldn't believe because of the "generosity" of people who bring bad acid in.
BOB - And basically because we're musicians we're hip to some kind of temperance. You have to temper everything you do, and that basic thought carries over into our normal living style. You don't notice them carrying us out of the concerts. So if somebody is picking up on us and saying, "Those guys are saying take all of the drugs that you can take," there's a real misinterpretation there.
CHARLIE - Well, it's easy to understand why it happens. You and the Airplane are the biggest of the so-called acid rock bands.
JERRY - That whole acid rock trip is like some dumb label that some newspaperman hit on in '65 or '66. The idea that you can't understand the music without drugs is ridiculous. See, I always get more turned on when some completely straight person gets into it, because that means that what we're doing is a little bit more inclusive. I'm not really interested in eliminating anybody or excluding anybody.
CHARLIE - I've heard stories that you used to electrify the water backstage at the Fillmore.
JERRY - We've never been into dosing the stuff that gets into the audience. There's always somebody around but it's not us.
BOB - In fact, we don't condone it.
CHARLIE - Seems to be a lot of false stories about you. What kind of stories would you like to have circulating?
JERRY - We would like a myth that we're all incredibly thorny and difficult people and completely anti-social in every respect. It would make it a lot easier.
PHIL - Then only the people with the most interesting trips would bother to talk to us.
BOB - There are some guys who'll talk to anybody about anything. They have that "I've got to talk to Jagger but Garcia will do" syndrome.
JERRY - Yeah, there's a lot of classic syndromes in rock. The one Bob just ran down is a perfectly typical example. It's a groovy position to be in, but you have to learn to discern one thing from another. When somebody comes to hit on you, sometimes it's going to be good and sometimes it's going to be really terrible. You have to pick up on it fast.
CHARLIE - Do you have groupies?
JERRY - We don't have the groupies you see in the magazines. I think we scare them. But our equipment men have a lot of fans.
CHARLIE - Are you enjoying your popularity?
PHIL - In Boston, Garcia and Mickey got pinned against a truck and the equipment men had a wave of people over them. When that stuff goes down, what good is it for us to go and play music to people like that? On this tour and only in the East it's been like that - violent.
BOB - Lots of times it doesn't have anything to do with the music. It's one thing to have a lot of music lovers crashing the gate. It's another thing to have people who don't have anything better to do who are just into like - attack!
CHARLIE - What are you going to do about it?
JERRY - All we can do is not play and thus avoid presenting ourselves as an excuse for somebody having their little trip. We don't want to be background music for a riot.
BOB - Apparently it doesn't only happen to us. Now we and a few other groups will have to make concessions like playing at a bigger hall and having tickets cost less so more people can get in.
PHIL - Or hire cops.
JERRY - We can only make adjustments, endless adjustments.
BOB - And by that we'll lose something in the group.
JERRY - It's getting trickier and trickier. 'Cause it's hard to tell who to like anymore. In a lot of these scenes I find myself liking the cops who are able to restrain themselves so admirably while some idiot is trying to break through them over music - but music is just the excuse for it. Making generalizations about people and their roles today is just not the kind of thing you can do. Having a good concert has to do with everybody in the crowd knowing how to deal with everyone else. There used to be a real high level where nobody would get hurt and you could let your kids run around. It can only get that way again if people start doing it that way.
CHARLIE - Where do you want your music to go?
JERRY - There's an infinite number of possibilities with records. There are a lot of things I'd like to try that we haven't done yet. We're just slowly eliminating possibilities. We're doing a little bit in one idea, then a little in another. We don't feel limited in what we can put on an album. We'd like our music to go all over everywhere and just keep getting better.
BOB - As we get better our critique of ourselves gets harder, so we have to keep getting better to get off.
JERRY - You get bored playing the same way for a long time, so you change out of sheer boredom.
CHARLIE - A complete change of subject. Do you have any opinion on women's lib?
BOB - I've seen a couple of women's lib papers, and all I can say is their diatribe seems to me long, loud and negative.
CHARLIE - Well, male chauvinist pigs, did you ever consider having a woman in the group?
JERRY - Always did have designs on Janis (the late Janis Joplin), and she sang with us a couple of times. It would have to be someone of that stature.
CHARLIE - Where are your heads now? Are you where people think you are?
JERRY - I don't think we were ever where people thought we were, but I don't know. The world we live in doesn't have any Grateful Dead in it. We don't know what people think of the Grateful Dead. We've never even seen them!
CHARLIE - In advance, I regret feeling I should ask this but, are you religious?
BOB - Well, Pig is religious about booze.
JERRY - I get a lot of religious news. We know a lot of holy men. They all check in. We're a cause of some concern amongst them. They come to our scene and remark on the energy and all that, and we sometimes appear as part of a lecture. Our music is religious.
CHARLIE - Want to say more about your energy?
BOB - Yeah. Well, we jumps and the kids they jumps too.
JERRY - I'd like for that energy to get higher.
CHARLIE - How do you feel about being superstars?
JERRY - It just makes it harder to get better.
CHARLIE - Does your audience seem to be changing?
PHIL - It seems to be getting younger. It's mostly 16 to 20 now.
CHARLIE - I was at your concert in Brooklyn the other day standing behind some teenage girls. They were planning a way to rush Bob.
PHIL - Bobby cools it. But he can't help it if he is pretty.
CHARLIE - These girls weren't laughing. They were really sighing. One of them was really far out. Her two friends had to hold her back.
PHIL - That's the kind of level of energy we could easily use getting higher from. There's a lot of energy on that level, but there's another level above that, the more level. People get there and just want to stay there and get more of that.
CHARLIE - Anything else you'd like to say for your fans before this interview comes to an end?
JERRY - I would like to eliminate the rumor that we're all good guys.
BOB - Cause we're not.
JERRY - We're at least 50% bad guys at least 50% of the time.
PHIL - Buy our records and stay away from our gigs.
BOB - Don't fight kids, don't fight.

(by Marlise James, from Charlie, 1971)

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com

A shorter edit of this interview, with only Garcia's answers, was published in Circus magazine: